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Meet Brian Cane of Cane Real Estate

Today we’d like to introduce you to Brian Cane.

Hi Brian, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
I was born into a real estate family. My uncle and Dad both obtained their licenses in the mid-1970s. Turns out, most of my family pursued careers in real estate or affiliated business (mortgage, title, credit reporting, etc.) For me, real estate was not a sure bet, as I wanted to create my own stamp in life. Heading into college, where I played soccer for UC Davis, my intent was to major in Psychology for purposes of becoming an Organizational/Industrial psychologist. The goal was to work with leaders and organizations to help drive productivity, teamwork and provide tools for conflict mediation and other areas of human psychology that play into the workplace. I grew up in many leadership environments and was drawn to helping and influencing others from an early age. 

I was the President of my elementary and junior high school in 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th grade and the designated junior leader to lay the wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier during our trip to Washington DC. I was also involved all four years in the Associated Student Body throughout High School, culminating in my opportunity to serve as Vice President of the ASB my senior year. I was an invited participant of the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards conference as well as a returning Camp Leader the following year. I was also the captain of both my high school and college soccer teams. In other words, at about age ten, if I got involved with a group or organization, I naturally gravitated towards leadership. I mention this because leadership has been a lifelong journey – not something I studied, but a fabric that has been woven into the tapestry of my life through experience and opportunity for over 30 years.

Fast forward to my senior year in college. It was the end of the Winter trimester of my senior year and my roommates and I had just finished our finals. The mission: ace our finals, sell our books back to the bookstore and take the money and head straight to south lake tahoe! The plan went off without a hitch… with one exception! We all sold over $400 worth of books back to the book story for approximately $80. We were outraged and decided it was time to “stick it to the man.” How? Cut out the middle man. That was the idea that ignited my first business – Squids Ink! We also happed to be in the right place at the right time (Northern California during the dot com boom). We created a web-based bulletin board that allowed students to sell books to one another, look for a roommate, sell a bicycle, etc. (basically, a Craigslist for college students before Craigslist was operating outside of the Bay Area). We expanded to six college campuses and began producing college phone directories and advertising services for companies looking to reach that demographic. It was a great experience to be 22 years old and launch a company with your best friends, creating internship opportunities and being part of the local business community (our office with on the 2nd floor of a building in Davis next to the town’s favorite watering hole).

Two years later, our vision for the business and our personal passions had our partners going in different directions. I still had a bug for travel and for Southern California, where my family resides. I decided to sell my shares in the business back to my now one remaining business partner and head to Maui. It was there that I did a lot of sole searching, meditation, and thinking about what I wanted next in life. Ultimately it was two conversations that had the biggest influence. First was with my father, who had encouraged me to “always have your real estate license.” As I talked to him about the various ideas I had for starting another business, he listened and then said: “you know, son, these are good ideas but remember, there is no glass ceiling in real estate and you can make whatever you want of yourself… and knowing you, you would do really well”. Well, for the next month, that’s all I could think about – whether to follow in my Dad’s footsteps or not. 

At 25 years old, I still had a great deal of angst and desire for independence so getting into real estate, like my family, was never something I had given any real consideration. Then it clicked! Real Estate is an industry that allows individuals to become whatever they want to be. It’s not just sales – it’s leadership, technology, management, advertising, research, altruism, wealth building, investing… truly anything you want to be. For me, it was clear. I wanted to be a business owner above all else. Enter the 2nd conversation. While in Maui, I had lunch with a family friend who had their Broker License. After pitching him my idea for starting an independent real estate brokerage, he agreed to help me launch as the broker of record, mentor me and allow me to gain experience until which time I was able to acquire my own broker’s license.

PacifiCal Realty Group was founded in 2004 and has continued to this day as a holding company for my real estate business activities. As a young business owner, I was able to build the firm to 12 associates before the great recession – arguably the most challenging time in my personal and professional career. I would love to say that I succeeded my way to success, but the reality is that I failed all along the way. By late 2007 as the financial markets, banking and real estate industries began to crumble, so did my business. Homes were not selling. Mortgages were not funding. It was a bleak and dark time. My rental properties were upside down and I lacked the experience and perspective to navigate the storm. I needed help!

Thankfully, I made the best decision of my life! I found my way to Keller Williams Realty (KW) and its founder, Gary Keller. As an independent brokerage, I was on an island and lacked the resources, models, tools, technology and network to thrive through the recession. The platform that Keller Williams offered allowed me to keep my businesses, advertise my brand out front, and leverage their distribution network and teachings truly changed by business and ultimately changed my life. After associating with KW, I had the opportunity to hear Gary speak from stage. His journey had paralleled mine. He had built a business, then lost everything and then rebuilt it bigger than anyone could have ever imagined. I was inspired. I was focused. I was determined. I had only one place to go… up! I dove deep into learning. This is a habit (the learning habit) that has had the most impact on me in the last 13 years. I soaked up every class, every convention, every book, every mastermind I could get my hands on. I went from E to P! I went from an “entrepreneurial” style to a “purposeful” style. In other words, I went from doing what comes natural to what came learned. Gary Keller taught me this. All of us have our own natural abilities that lead us to certain ceilings of achievement. in order to break through those ceilings, we must do what comes unnatural – what is learned! This habit has lead to other habits (the time habit, the productivity habit, mindset habit, the money habit, the 80/20 rule, etc…)

These new learned habits helped drive my success and by 2010, I was recognized as one of the top 75 real estate teams at Keller Williams Realty in North America. The track record of success I was creating opened up more opportunities. As such, I helped re-launch and co-found Keller Williams Realty La Jolla in 2013 as well as several other businesses in the last nine years, including a 2nd real estate franchise in the Carmel Mountain/Sabre Springs area of San Diego as well as a Mortgage Company, Natural Hazards Zone Disclosure Company, Escrow Operations, and my passion project: Cane Cares, Inc a 501c(3) not for profit company who strives to prevent homelessness through hardship grants and continuing education scholarships.

Ultimately, my mission is to “create generational wealth by succeeding through others’ successes.” Simply put, my goal is to help others achieve their personal and professional goals and, in doing so, help them fund a life by design. There is an old saying: help as many people get what they want in life, and you’ll get everything you ever wanted as well. That’s my mission to help create wealth for others (and myself) that survive a single lifetime.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
No. In 2007 the recession hit hard. I was failing in business as the banks simply were not funding loans, which meant homes were not selling. Inventory piled up and demand dropped. I had more expenses then I had income and was forced to make some hard decisions. Ultimately, I short sold and foreclosed on investment properties, consolidated debt and fortified my mindset as losing… losing it all was not an easy road. The day before I got married I called my best man and told him I was freaking out because I only had $500 in my checking account and was drowning in debt. This was a deep hole and I could not see the light. Four months later, I found my way to Keller Williams and that’s when the journey out of the dark days and long nights truly began. I surrounded myself with positive people who had persevered and walked similar journeys before me. I didn’t give up… even though I wanted to. I stayed the course and, within 18 months, had turned my financial life around.

Appreciate you sharing that. What should we know about Cane Real Estate?
Cane Real Estate is the lead brand for a conglomerate of real estate activities. At present, I own a Mortgage company, operate 3 real estate brokerages, as well as a Natural Hazard Zone Disclosure company and non-profit. Altogether I oversee 350+ real estate agents in San Diego county. We serve over 2,000 families every year with their real estate and mortgage needs and assist hundreds of families develop long-lasting careers.

The most important thing I want readers to know is that not all opportunities and businesses are the same. Our models and systems are rooted in long-standing principles and truths that have stood the test of time. Like many industries, real estate is full of fly-by-night, here today, gone tomorrow racketeers all selling the “next best thing.” My family has been in the business for nearly 50 years and I am strategically partnered with the largest real estate company in the country who sells more real estate then any other company in the United States. Our principals are firmly rooted and proven. My family and partners have been in the business for decades and are committed to delivering results that matter, a deep sense of culture, and provide advice and guidance that stands the test of time.

We’re always looking for the lessons that can be learned in any situation, including tragic ones like the Covid-19 crisis. Are there any lessons you’ve learned that you can share?
Connection matters. Relationships matter. Conversations matter. We are not human’s doing… we are humans being. Technology only goes so far and while innovations in technology and medicine have created protections, efficiencies, and opportunity… at the end of the day, how we show up for others and with others is most important.

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